KEIR RADNEDGE in S FRANCE: Roy Hodgson deserved a better reward, in Marseille on Saturday, for daring to be bold. England’s manager has built a reputation over the years as a solid, conservative tactician. But in the Stade Velodrome, aware that his squad was short on quality defenders and long on quality attackers, he made a virtue out of necessity.

Eric Dier was the lone holding midfielder, flanked positively by Dele Alli and captain Wayne Rooney with centre-forward Harry Kane being flanked by Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling on the wings.

Given Russia’s injury problems this should have been more than enough for England to kick off with a win. They dominated the first half and ripped the left flank of the Russian defence into bits and pieces. Chances came and went and Russian keeper Igor Akinfeyev also saved well from Lallana and Rooney. But no goals.

Russia readjusted during the break. They began the second half playing flatter, higher lines and sought to take their game to England at last. But even when Joe Hart was forced to make a save – tipping the ball over the bar – it was from a miscued defensive header by Dier.

England came again. Rooney had a low drive magnificently turned against the posts by Akinfeyev but the keeper was helpless when Dier finally shot England in front from a free kick inside the ‘D’.

It was no more than England had long since deserved yet the lead was shortlived. In stoppage time Russian skipper Vasili Berezutski turned up in the England penalty box to loop a header over Hart and leave England’s players aghast.

England fault lines were easy to identify:

1, their much-vaunted attack failed to convert any of the chances including a string of crosses which flew, untouched, across the face of goal;

2, Hodgson left Sterling on the pitch for far too long when it was clear the Manchester City winger, short of matches this past season, had run out of steam;

3, Hodgson kept Jamie Vardy on the subs’ bench when, after an hour had gone, England needed something new in style, tactic and pace; and

4, In the closing stages the defensive settings were upset by the late introductions of Jack Wilshere and James Milner to try to defend the result; Russia capitalised to score.

Hodgson insisted later that his players would bounce back quickly from the depressing effect of having thrown away two points He said: “To say we’re ‘disappointed’ would be an understatement. To lose it with one minute of injury time remaining was a tough pill to swallow.

“We were good in the first 45 minutes and the last 30 but not for the first 15 of the second half for some reason. Hopefully we’ll be able to put the memory of this last-minute goal behind us.”

To do that they will need to beat the group leaders . . . Wales.